Wayne State University
Back to Top

News and Announcements Archive

Detroit Fellows Tutor Co-Coordinators to receive Faculty Service Award

October 9, 2015

Two Honors College service-learning instructors are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Dale Thomas and Marcella Verdun, the Detroit Fellows Tutoring Project Co-Coordinators, are being awarded the Alumni Association’s 2015 Faculty Service Award. According to the Alumni Association’s website, the Faculty Service Award is given to WSU faculty “whose professional or civic efforts have brought about a greater appreciation to the University’s contribution to community service.

Thomas and Verdun said they were “honored” to have been chosen to receive the award.  

“I realize that service is definitely one of the things that our university supports, endorses, and is committed to, and I am very proud to be a part of that commitment from the university, especially from Honors,” Verdun said. “It has been an ambition of mine for a long time to see that kind of thing occur and to be a part of it.”

Detroit Fellows Tutoring Project is a service-learning course which trains WSU students as tutors for kindergarten through second grade Detroit Public School students who need additional help in reading.

The Tutoring Project began in 2003 as a collaborative effort between Guy Blackburn, the project’s original coordinator, Irvin D. Reid Honors College Curriculum & Research@Honors Coordinator Kevin Rashid, Thomas, and Verdun, who were still employed by Detroit Public Schools as a reading coordinator and elementary school principal, respectively.

According to Thomas, she and Verdun were “in on every seminar from the beginning” and that she would step-in and teach when Blackburn would have to travel to teach.

Thomas and Verdun took over the course full-time in 2006 when Blackburn passed suddenly. Since 2006, a total of 892 WSU students have gone through the course, tutoring 4,080 DPS students over a course of 46,284 hours.

“Dale…brings years of knowledge in teaching basic reading for elementary students-skills on ways to break the English language out of its components, making it easier to teach and simpler to learn,” Rashid said. “Dale models dedication, energy, and an attention to detail that encourages our tutors to hit their marks and she shares her nuanced insights on how young children engage and learn.”

When asked about Verdun, Rashid explained that she brings a calm, nurturing authority and the understanding of successful program organization.

“She (Verdun) knows how to bring out the best in even the most challenging student at the elementary or college level,” Rashid said. “Marcella serves as supporting role in the classroom, always modeling a uniquely beautiful combination of kindness, caring, and professionalism. Marcella’s organizational skills and seniority at DPS have been critical in getting the Tutoring Project into individual schools and in dealing with hierarchy at DPS when unexpected restrictions or requirements have kept us out of schools.”

“Together, they are a brilliant and selfless team dedicated to a critical mission: offering our WSU students skills in tutoring and an organized, profound experience in service while supporting Detroit’s children at a crucial, early stage in their development of reading skills so they can catch up and excel,” he continued.

Both Thomas and Verdun will be recognized during a pre-game ceremony at the Matthaei Athletic Complex on Saturday, October 10 before the homecoming game against Grand Valley State University. They will then be recognized on the field at half-time of the football game.

“I am very proud of the university, and of the Honor’s College, and am thankful to be a part of it,” Verdun said.